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The Chao Praya River runs through a large part of Bangkok, so it makes sense to use the river for transport as much as practicable, especially given that the road traffic can be pretty horrendous at various times of the day (much of the day, in reality). The Chao Praya Express boat is a great way to make the most of the river, with connections to the Bangkok Skytrain to go to places away from the river.

The Chao Praya River Express boat runs from Rat Burana in the south of Bangkok to Nonthaburi in the north, a distance of about 20 km in total. There are some 60 river boats going up and down all day from dawn (around 6 am) to after dark (around 7.30 pm). There are lots of boats on the river, many of which are taking public passengers, but you can identify the express boats as they will usually have a yellow, orange or green and yellow flag, depending on their direction and route. All of the boats are wooden in the traditional Thai style, and carry between 100 and 180 passengers. Fares range from about 10B for a single zone trip to 30B for a full end-to-end trip. Tickets can be purchased on board.

The flags on the express boats have special meanings. An orange flag means it’s a routine service, while a yellow flag usually only appears during very busy times.

The Bobe Market is right alongside the Chao Phraya River
The Bobae Market is right alongside the Chao Phraya River

There are 39 stops along the express boat route (see Chao Phraya River Express route map below), but the main ones most tourists will be interested in are:

  • (13) Phra Arthit – for Khao San Road and Banglamphu area
  • (12) Phra Pinklao Bridge
  • (9) Tha Chang – for the Grand Palace
  • (6) Memorial Bridge – for Little India and the night market
  • (5) Ratchawong – for China town
  • CEN – Taksin Bridge – for the Bangkok Skytrain.

Don’t limit yourself to the public ferry. You can take a dinner cruise on the Chao Phraya River (2.5-3 hours) where you can watch the river life drift by while enjoying a fantastic Thai dinner, starting from just US$50 per person. There’s also a 3-hour Bangkok Canals Cruise that takes in the Grand Palace and Wat Arun from around US$58 per person.

Best hotels along the Chao Phraya River

Some of the best accommodation in Bangkok is located along the banks of the Chao Phraya River and it’s a great place to stay. There’s always lots happening along the river and an abundance of fantastic restaurants and bars operate at all hours of the night. Here’s some of the best hotels along the river.

Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel and Towers
Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel and Towers

Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel & Towers
2 Charoen Krung Road Soi 30, Siphya, Bangrak, Bangkok 10500, Thailand
A classic luxury hotel right on the river with amazing views of Bangkok. Easy access to the Express boat and very close to Chinatown and Little India. Enjoy the River Bar in the evenings and eat at least once in the stunning Thai restaurant. A huge breakfast buffet caters to all tastes. Check rates and availability on TripAdvisor.

Millennium Hilton Bangkok
Millennium Hilton Bangkok

Millennium Hilton Bangkok
123 Charoennakorn Road, Khlongtonsai, Khlongsan, Bangkok 10600, Thailand
Another classic luxury hotel right on the riverside with fantastic city and river views especially from the upper floors where you get views of the Grand Palace and Wat Arun temple. Bright and airy feel with all the extras you could want like gym, sauna, swimming pool, spa and even its own river ferry for guests. Check availability and rates on TripAdvisor.

Check out the top 30 hotels along the Chao Phraya River

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Chao Phraya River Express route map

Chao Phraya River Express ferry route map
Route map for the Chao Phraya River Express passenger ferry in Bangkok
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Tony and Tracy Gilbert are veteran Asian travellers with experience living and travelling in Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, China, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and other Asian countries. Tony is a former journalist and editor who writes for many travel websites.